During the fall, Zisis Kyrou is more likely to be picking crocus flowers in northern Greece than be in his office at work. But he is not doing so for fun. It is profitable. Kyrou, who is 34, gathers crocuses outside his hometown of Krokos to produce the spice saffron. Spices are used to improve the taste of foods. And saffron is a favorite. People pay so much money for it that it is often called “red gold.”
Saffron has brought jobs and money to an area of Greece that is better known for coalmines and unemployment. A year ago, area saffron producers began exporting to the United States. Now they are looking to China.
Most of the saffron producers are young Greeks who could not find jobs during Greece’s nine-year economic crisis. They began farming as a result .
“İt was hard to find work in your field during the crisis, particularly in civil engineering, because there was no construction,” Kyrou said. İn 2012, Kyrou returned to Greece from London with two university degrees. He opened an engineering office in his village of Krokos, but he makes more money from his 1.6 hectares of land.
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